Back of students walking into commencement ceremony

Commencement

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dear Class of 2020:

On behalf of the faculty, administration, and staff of St. John’s University and as September and January graduates and prospective May graduates, we are delighted to offer our warmest congratulations. The Class of 2020 holds a special place in our thoughts and prayers at this time of great disruption due to the COVID-19 global health crisis. Through it all, you have demonstrated the resolve and resilience that allowed you to complete your studies in a timely fashion. We applaud you for your efforts and commend your adaptability to these challenging circumstances. During the last two months, we know that you have learned some important life lessons – perhaps most especially how we are all interconnected as part of the global community.

Today, you can take pride in knowing that by earning a St. John’s degree, you will bring your years of study and hard work to a successful conclusion. You will be among the more than 190,000 living St. John’s alumni who are permanent and proud members of the University’s family.

We are confident that the knowledge and skills you have acquired will enable you to enjoy great personal and professional success. We hope that you always practice the University’s Vincentian mission of service and caring for those most in need. Such compassionate concern both enriches your own life and, indeed, makes the world a better place.

The friendships and professional relationships you have developed during your years at St. John’s will remain valuable assets to draw upon as you begin your professional careers. As a lifelong member of the St. John’s community, you are encouraged to visit campus to participate in the many alumni activities held throughout the year and to keep informed of the continuing development of our programs. We are always available should you require career counseling, assistance in pursuing additional academic opportunities, or availing yourself of programs that engage your passion for learning.

Please accept our very best wishes on your graduation, and be assured of our prayers for your continued success.

Sincerely,

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.   
President 

Simon Geir Møller, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

A Message from the President

On April 6, 2020, I communicated to you that after very careful consideration, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the University will not be able to hold spring 2020 Commencement Exercises and related events for graduate and undergraduate students as originally scheduled. I recognize that this news was a great disappointment for you. However, your health and safety and that of your fellow students, your families and the entire St. John’s community remain our primary concern. Public health guidelines in New York which are still in place prevent large gatherings and require social distancing.

Based on feedback from an internal survey of graduating seniors, a majority of students indicated that they would appreciate a virtual recognition ceremony now and would be interested in returning to campus for an in-person ceremony to be held at a later date when public health guidelines permit. The University is exploring the possibility of holding an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 next spring. When finalized, the details of these events will be communicated to you well in advance. The timing of any future in-person ceremonies is separate from the formal completion of your undergraduate and graduate studies. Upon successful completion of your academic requirements, your degrees will be conferred on schedule.

Your Commencement will not go unrecognized, nor will the fact that you have earned your degree and are now a graduate of St. John’s. This milestone marks your place among the ranks of our family of 190,000 living alumni.

I want to advise you of some important dates and information:

  • Prior to May 16, all students scheduled to graduate will receive a formal letter from Provost Simon Møller and me to formally recognize your academic achievements.
  • On Sunday, May 17, all Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan undergraduate students will receive a digital congratulatory message from Provost Møller and me.
  • Graduate-level students scheduled to graduate will receive a digital congratulatory message from their respective Deans to coincide with the previously scheduled dates of the Graduate Commencement Exercises between May 15 – May 20.
  • On Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31, the University will be hosting online virtual recognition events for all graduating undergraduate students and for each of our graduate-level schools and colleges. These virtual recognition events will include a separate celebratory slideshow with individual graduate recognition. Please note this digital program is not intended to be a substitute for any in-person commencement ceremony, but is meant to recognize your degree completion now.

Additional information and event details for the Class of 2020 will be shared with you during the coming week. Please continue to check your University email account and visit www.stjohns.edu/commencement for the latest information.

The Class of 2020 holds a special place in our thoughts and prayers at this time of great disruption due to the COVID-19 global health crisis. Through it all, you have demonstrated the resolve and resilience that allowed you to complete your studies in a timely fashion. We thank you for your efforts and commend your adaptability to these challenging circumstances. On behalf of the St. John’s faculty, staff and administrators, I wish you the best of luck with the conclusion of the spring semester and final exams. 

—Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D., President

Update on 2020 Commencement Exercises

In the midst of the global coronavirus crisis, we have consistently sought to protect the health, safety, and overall well-being of our students, faculty, administrators and staff. With so much uncertainty about the impact and scope of COVID-19, we have made both short- and long-term decisions which we believe to be in the best interest of St. John’s and the broader community.

After very careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to hold the spring semester 2020 Commencement Exercises and related events for graduate and undergraduate students as originally scheduled. We will explore possible options to have a suitable event to honor our graduating students at a later date. This decision will not impact the timing of degree completion for May graduates and issued diplomas will reflect each student’s actual graduation date.

To our graduating students, we fully understand how profoundly disappointing this news may be for you. Commencement is the culmination of years of hard work and is a special moment to celebrate the completion of your studies. However, the health and safety of everyone should be our priority in making this difficult decision. Please view our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

We ask for your patience and understanding as the University seeks to manage the significant and far-reaching impacts of COVID-19. I look forward to the time when, together, we can safely reconvene as a University community to celebrate the proud accomplishments of the Class of 2020.

—Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D., President